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French march against antisemitism shakes up far right and far left

Something unprecedented is happening this weekend in Paris, brought about by the war between Israel and Hamas and its spill-over in Europe.

For the first time ever, a major demonstration attended by representatives of the major political parties will include the far right - but not the far left.

On Sunday afternoon thousands of people are expected to heed a call from the Speakers of the two houses of parliament to show their support for French "Republican" values and their rejection of antisemitism - this in the face of a steep rise in antisemitic actions since 7 October.

Among the first to announce their presence were Marine Le Pen, three-times presidential candidate for the National Rally (formerly the National Front), and the party's young president, Jordan Bardella.

Almost simultaneously came a rejoinder from their counterpart on the far left, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, irascible leader of France Unbowed (LFI). His party would not be attending, he tweeted, because the march was a "rendezvous for unconditional supporters of the massacre [of Gazans]".

It is hard to overestimate the symbolic significance of this switch-over.

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